“Theirs is a typical New York hospitality story. He was the chef. She was the hostess”, proclaims the website, and goes on to describe a blossoming romance. Too cute. After dragging her man back to Australia, it was time to start their own restaurant. Fortunately though, owners Naomi Hart and Greg Llewellyn did not go the Bennifer or Brangelina route, or the place could have been called Nareg or Graomi. Naomi landed naming rights while Greg worked the hotplates.
They go on to describe it as an “inner city homestead” and certainly you feel comfortable as you walk in the door and take a seat – its small and cosy, simple wooden tables, a few pieces of art on the walls, and nothing too fussy . But it’s a homestead with surprises, part American soul food and part wild re-invention, with plenty of plating artistry thrown in. There were seven of us that night and we had a good crack at most of the menu, and ate way more than was good for us, but we couldn’t help it.
Note to dieters: go away.
The menu is divided into a “Seed” and “Feed” section rather than your standard entrée and main monikers, but the Seeds were pretty generous and you could make a great meal out of those alone. Actually, make that an excellent meal, because the Seeds were all fantastic. You could devour a bowl of those potato skins, which go beautifully with that tender octopus. And who would of thought of duck rillettes in a jaffle – bought back memories of the Breville Snack ‘n Sandwich maker my mother has hiding in the cupboard somewhere – with a devine cherry concoction plus a great hazelnut crunch. The Po’ Boys – a deep fried oyster with coleslaw and mayo on a delicious muffin – well, they are as good as everyone says. Short of time? Duck in, grab a seat at the bar, have a couple of them with a clever cocktail (such as the Hartyard Manhatten with bacon infused Jack Daniels) and be on your merry way. And how good could a Saturday night at the movies be with a bag of prawn popcorn?
Oyster Po’ Boy on an English muffin, Old Bay mayo, coleslaw
Fremantle Octopus with potato skins, white corn, piquillo peppers
Duck Rillettes Jaffle with cherry, foie gras, hazelnut praline
School Prawn Popcorn with espelette pepper, sour cream, lemon
We then moved onto the Feeds. My pick of these was undoubtedly the pulled pork which pulled in all the right ways. The cauliflower was also a surprise, cleverly served slab style rather than the usual florets. The fried chicken, while crispy and not at all greasy, didn’t have the punch of flavour I expected but the accompanying glorious country sausage gravy took it where it was supposed to go.
Pulled Pork with maple bacon, yoghurt, apple
Cauliflower with Smoked raisin, porcini marmalade, queso fresco, pecan
Fried Chicken with buttermilk biscuit, low country sausage gravy
Smoked Brisket with pastrami spice, special sauce, sauerkraut, rye
Ricotta Gnudi with roasted broccoli, pecorino tartufo, chanterelles
The deserts are charmingly called “Out to Pasture” and I tell you if there was a pasture at the back of the restaurant, at that point, we probably would have gone to lie down in it. But in for a penny, in for a pound. There were four desserts, so of course we thought we would try them all. If you want something more traditional looking, go the Peanut Butter and Banana Sundae; the other desserts took a more deconstructed format and were gorgeously presented. The crowd favourite, and an unexpected one at that, was the pumpkin pie, where the pumpkin took the form of paper thin wafers and the whisky flavoured ice cream provided a great lift.
Peanut Butter + Banana Sundae with pretzel ice-cream, banana doughnut, salted fudge & Pumpkin Pie with rice custard, Jack Daniels ice-cream, spiced pear, pecan praline
Chocolate and Honey chocolate ganache, dehydrated mousse, sorrel sorbet, crispy quinoa, pomegranate & Vanilla Cheesecake with raspberry cookie dough, lemon ice-cream, raspberry meringue
Greg and Naomi’s love story is undoubtedly one that worked well. Head on over to Newtown and witness the romance yourself.
Hartsyard, 33 Enmore Road Newtown, ph 02 8068 1473